“Reading is like thinking, like praying, like talking to a friend, like expressing your ideas, like listening to other people’s ideas, like listening to music, like looking at the view, like taking a walk on the beach.” – Roberto Bolaño
The Gaia/nature reading challenge has been running for a couple of years now, it started as a way to feed my natural interest in nature and environmental writing of all kinds, including fiction with nature themes. It has also been an attempt to encourage connection with the natural world. Modern life has seen humanity become increasingly divorced from nature to the detriment of ourselves and the natural world. The Gaia challenge has been about connecting and caring. As the end of the year looms I have started to think about next year’s challenge.
The challenge has always been simple and accommodating and that ethos will continue. Book blogs and reading challenges are not as big as they were a few years back but I still think there is a place for the camaraderie of book blogging, for sharing reading ideas, recommendations and other resources like podcasts. I have loved the process of discovering new books via this challenge. But how can we improve the Gaia/nature challenge? What do you want to see in the challenge? And what should the challenge badge look like?
2023 will again have a short book bingo and I am interested in what categories people would like? Is there something in which you have a burning interest and you think we could all benefit from exploring? I am wondering about how we can incorporate greater diversity into the challenge and the conversation. Maybe we could add a challenge to read a book by, or about a person with a disability in connection to nature or a book by a person of different ethnicity. Is there an intersection between LGBTIQ and the environment? First nations authors have always had a prominent place in the challenge so let’s continue that while reading even wider.
Are there any suggestions for the 2023 badge? The first year I hosted the challenge the badge was just a tree photo from a bushwalk. Last year’s badge was a puffin and this year I went with a sugar glider, so I kind of maxed out the cute factor on both of those. What should the 2023 mascot on the badge be? Does anyone want to try their hand at designing the badge? I just play around in Canva till I have something that is passable. I am sure others could come up with something more creative. Maybe any participant could design their own personal badge with an animal mascot that especially speaks to them. I am happy to share badges and links here on Gumtrees and Galaxies. Anyway, let me know what you think.
The challenge has also helped me mitigate the despair I feel at each new climate or environment report. The climate crisis continues, showing no sign humanity will take adequate action in time to stop catastrophic climate change. There are odd successes in conservation and pollution management but overwhelmingly we seem to be still hell bent on destruction and devastation. This challenge is a small attempt to celebrate the natural world and encourage a community of caring about the world.